Studio Spotlight: Rising Dragon Tattoo, NYC
I love New York but sometimes I feel New York doesn't love me back. The rents continue to soar, with a middle finger up at the recession. What were once my favorite dive bars now have velvet ropes and lists to get in. Our rock & roll institutions are vanishing: CBGB's is a high-end boutique, punk mecca Coney Island High on St. Marks now is a noodle joint, and then there's the heartbreak of the Chelsea Hotel.
The landmark hotel was once home to musicians, artists, writers, and all forms of beautiful freaks like Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Charles Bukowski, Sid & Nancy ... and it was the home of Darren Rosa's Rising Dragon Chelsea Tattoo Company. That is, until this past Halloween when the tattoo studio had to move because the new management decided it didn't fit the "lifestyle" they wanted the property to embody. [The NY Times did a great story on how the developers squeezed Darren out and also some residents.]
Darren operated the shop at the Chelsea since 1997, when tattooing became legal in NYC. In 2007, when his lease was not fully renewed (only month to month), he had the foresight to open a second Rising Dragon, which is located at West 14th, just off of Sixth Avenue -- a busy Manhattan location. To house all of his artists, from the original shop to the new, Darren then negotiated a space at the top floor of the West 14th building. And now the studio expansion is ready to get blood and green soap all over it.
Naturally, this is cause for a party! This Sunday, January 15th, Rising Dragon will be celebrating with live music and drinks in its new warm and cozy studio, from 6:30PM to midnight. See photos of the new space here. More info on their Facebook page.
When the music is over and the bottles are empty, the Rising Dragon artists will be back at work hustling -- including those coming over from the old Chelsea shop like Carlos Gonzales as well as Horisei of Yokohama, who is a regular guest artist doing machine tattooing and traditional tebori.
And so Rising Dragon Tattoo continues to grow, ascending beyond adversity. It's a New York story and a reason to keep my love affair with the city.